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Artificial Intelligence, Powered by Many Humans

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Credit: Jon Han

University of Rochester researchers have developed Chorus, an approach to virtual personal assistants that creates a smart artificial chat partner from small contributions from many crowdsourced workers.

During testing, Chorus was asked for travel advice and the system showed that it could be smarter than any one individual in the crowd, because multiple people were contributing to its responses. "It shows how a crowd-powered system that is relatively simple can do something that [artificial intelligence] has struggled to do for decades," says Rochester professor Jeffrey Bigham.

The researchers aimed to find a new way to increase the power of crowdsourcing, which is traditionally limited to simple, isolated tasks. "What we're really interested in is when a crowd as a collective can do better than even a high-quality individual," Bigham says. As part of the Chorus system, any new chat updates from the user are passed along to many crowd workers, who are asked to suggest a reply. The suggestions are then voted on by crowd workers to determine which one will be sent back to the user. The final step creates a working memory that ensures that Chorus' replies reflect the history of the conversation.

From Technology Review 
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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